The Thing About the Black Weblog Awards
For the better part of the last year I've been trying not to think about it. The Black Weblog Awards; the bane of my blogging existence. When I go back and read old posts and see my impassioned pleas for nominations or votes I cringe and delete them immediately. During my unfortunate blog hiatus a voice in my head would remind me that the longer I stayed away, the harder it would be to win. I ignored it. I keep telling myself that those awards have nothing to do with me.
And then on Friday I got the email I’ve been dreading for months. “BWA Nominations & Black Social Media Weekend“, the headline proclaimed. I deleted that shit with a quickness and moved on with my life. For about 0.2 seconds.
The pull to read the email was too great. And so I undeleted it, opened it, saw that nominations open July 11. And unbidden thoughts about how to campaign began to fill my head. So I deleted it again, posted a somewhat snarky tweet about it, and resumed my HBO Girls marathon.
Let me explain: When I first started this blog I had three goals: to write a guest post on SingleBlackMale.org, to be the top story in the FreshXpress newsletter (RIP), and to be nominated for a Black Weblog Award. And I did all those things. The men of SBM allowed me to crash their party several times. I have many beautiful holes ripped into my backside from the good readers of FxP. And I’ve been nominated for seven BWA’s. Seven.
And how many have I won? Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Aucun. And I should be gracious and say that it’s an honour just to be nominated, that the work my readers put into submitting my name and voting for me is all that matters. I should say that my goal was to get one nomination; it was never to win. And I should be glad that I’ve done that many times over. But fuck that. I want to win. And although I vowed last year (and the year before that too) that I wasn’t going to fuck with the BWA’s ever again, for some reason I just can’t let it go.
There are some things about the BWA’s that just don’t make sense to me. And while the grown up and productive thing to do would be to voice my concerns directly to them, I know that that would just make me look like a sucky baby and a hater. So I’m doing what any blogger worth her salt would do and airing my grievances in the privacy of my own blog.
Before I start, let me just say for the record that I applaud the BWA’s for what they’re trying to do. They’re giving us Black bloggers a means by which to recognize our accomplishments, and that is awesome. Thanks BWA people for all that you do.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say my piece.
The things about the BWA’s though is that they seem to be more concerned with boosting their profile as an organization than they are with making it work for the Black Bloggers they’re supposed to be recognizing. They’ve grown exponentially over the years; had some pretty awesome prizes, become a bigger force in social media, and made a lot of changes to the process year over year, but they are still largely a pain in the ass for bloggers to deal with.
Take nominations for example. The logical thing to do in my mind would be for them to compile a group of nominees, release them in a logical and timely way, and then send bloggers out to campaign for votes. That would keep it honest and respect the fact that the vast majority of Black bloggers have jobs and lives and families and BLOGS and don’t necessarily have the time and resources it takes to launch a serious campaign. That would also make sure that the right blogs end up in the right categories.
But no. Bloggers have to beg readers to nominate them, tell them what categories they want to be nominated for, and then direct them to a pretty intense nomination form. And they pretty much have to do that every single day on every single social media outlet for the entire two-month nomination period.
Then the nominees are announced. In the old days, they would tell you what day and time they were posting them and you could go to their site at your leisure and find out. Last year? They sent you emails on announcement day. One email per nomination. And they did it in their own sweet time. So you’re on twitter seeing mad tweets from other bloggers about their nominations and feeling dry because your send and receive doesn’t work as quickly and you think you didn’t get nominated when really you’re just slow. Or maybe that’s just me. And the emails went out so late that I was woken out of my sleep 85 times by people sending me congratulatory DM’s at 11:00pm on a weekday. It’s annoying.
And yes, I know that makes me sound like a whiny ungrateful brat. But I just think there are so many smarter ways they could do that.
And then after all your hard work campaigning for nominations pays off, guess what? It’s time to campaign for votes! And so you get to go through the same process all over again. So for about three months straight your job – in addition to your actual job and your blog – is to annoy your readers by asking them to vote for you over and over and over.
And keep in mind that to the readers, friends, and family you harass for votes this is mad confusing. “What? Vote for you again? Didn’t I just do that?” Nope. You nominated me. Now you have to vote for me. What do you get out of that? The satisfaction of knowing that the author of the blog you read is award-winning. Oh you don’t give a shit? Sorry about that. But please vote for me!
See the thing about awards that are based on reader’s votes is that it’s essentially a popularity contest. My traffic numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but I’m not a behemoth like VSB or SBM or YBF (Oh maybe that’s my problem. I don’t have an acronym for my blog). No matter how hard smaller bloggers campaign, we just don’t have the numbers to beat blogs that are double or triple our size.
I have more thoughts, but I’m already over 1,000 words and that’s a lot to dump on your heads when you probably don’t give a shit about the BWA’s. So let me cut to the chase.
I always planned to shun the BWA’s this year. After losing 7 times, I’m a bit demoralized. And I do think the infrastructure of them makes it nearly impossible for me to win. So it seems a bit like a colossal waste of my time to campaign this year. If I sit it out this year, I don’t have to be disappointed when I don’t win. Simple, right?
The thing is though I know I will feel shagged when my blogging friends are nominated and I’m not. And I’ll feel even more dry when they win and I don’t. But at the same time, I know that winning or losing at the BWA’s doesn’t do much to enhance my life. At the end of the day, an email from a reader telling me she feels like I’m her friend in her head and that I make her feel like it’s okay to speak the thoughts she’s been hiding for years is way more gratifying than putting that “winner” button on my site.
But still…I want to win.
So what do you guys think? Campaign for a nomination or sit this one out? Will you guys vote for me if I throw my hat in the ring? If I get a decent amount of comments I’ll go with the majority. So speak your piece in the comments!